Tom Cruise King, Again, With Mission Impossible Success 1Tom Cruise can make as many “Mission Impossible” films as he wants. He returned to a familiar formula when he made his latest, “Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol,” and it worked, again, with audiences as well as critics.

The Paramount action-adventure thriller grossed $31.3 million for the three-day New Year’s weekend and remained No. 1 in box office ticket sales for the second week in a row. So far, the domestic take is $134.2 million.

Paramount estimates that the Brad Bird-directed film will take in another $8.7 million on this holiday Monday (Jan. 2) and totally $142.9 million in North America. Overseas, ticket sales have passed the $200 million mark.

When all is said and done, Paramount estimates the film will earn $600 million goobally, a franchise record. That’s no small feat given that the three MI films generated more than $1.4 billion against a cost of about $350 million.

Tom Cruise: Winning Formula

That means Cruise, 49, is bank in that role, and studio bigwigs aren’t likely to tinker with a winning formula. What makes this sequel so hot?

MI III, was the worst performing at the box office, although most studios would kill for a film that grossed $398 million. It was also the best reviewed film in the series, until the latest, according to rottentomatoes, a Web site that tracks movie critics.

The film was directed by J.J. Abrams after two other directors turned it down. This time around, Paramount went with Bird. He was an odd choice given that MI IV was his first live-action film.

But Bird, who wrote and directed Disney/Pixar’s “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille” and won two Oscars for best animated features, is known for his fluid visual style, and tight storytelling. Critics have loved all of his pictures, and MI IV was no exception.

The film, which also stars Jeremy Renner, Paula Patton and Simon Pegg, received a 93 percent rating on rottentomatoes.

“[Bird’s] fresh touch gives breathless energy, tremendous excitement and, above all, humor to what could have been a wearying genre exercise,” wrote Colin Covert, of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

True to his style, Bird kept the storytelling tight and the action non-stop. “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol is… chock-full of dazzling stunts and heroic moments, played out at a near-hysterical pitch,” wrote Tom Long of the Detroit News.

Tom Cruise: Old Tricks

Cruise re-deployed all of his old tricks, from outrunning explosions and jumping off buildings to showing off his core body strength by dangling from wires inches off the floor.
As always, the 47-year-old actor did most of his own stunts and filmed on location in Dubai, Prague, Moscow, Mumbai and Vancouver. Not surprisingly, Cruise, Pegg and Bird are already talking about a fifth film.

Paramount is also reportedly interested in fast-tracking the movie due to the success of the latest in the series. And no wonder.

Despite a year-end holiday uptick, the 2011 domestic box office is down 3.4 percent from 2010, while attendance tumbled to a 16-year low, according to the Hollywood Reporter.